The Beach Diaries 2012 – #4
* A five-year-old boy answers his iPhone.
* Sorry, impossible-romance fans, but Hot Lifeguard doesn’t appear to have returned this season. Guess I’ll have to spread my self-loathing and barely repressed relationship issues across a wider gamut of unfortunate cyphers.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Mother of a large family to her ten-year-old son.
“Fucking cheer up, will you, you cunt? This is a nice day out.”
* A dad wrestles with a huge five-sailed kite, which threatens to yank him off his feet as it tears through the sky. His young son, bored, wanders off and leaves him to it. Soon, the dad is laying on the grass, arms and neck veins at full stretch, and red in the face, like a World’s Strongest Man heaving a mobile library down a runway.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Woman to her friend:
“I’ve got two kids and no life.”
* A scruffy Shadrach Dingle-looking man chases a young woman’s sun-hat as it blows and rolls along the prom. He finally catches it with a grandly gesticulated stomp, snaring it beneath a tattered trainer. He hands it back with a smile and they go their separate ways.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Two shirtless lads.
“Just get some Mandy’s and drink coke.”
“Seriously, we’ll just get some Class A’s and drink Ribena.”
I’m such a doesn’t-even-drink, Poundstretcher CM Punk of a square, I have zero idea what a Mandy is until I get home and Google it. I bet Ribena’s code these days too. What’s Um Bongo slang for in 2012, you wannabe rockstar little wasters? GHB mixed in with a teaspoon of your nan’s bladder medication? Probably turn your nose up at a radiator-dried banana skin, wouldn’t you?
* Those retro “Brrring!” ringtones always freak me out. I feel like I’m going to suddenly wake in an unfamiliar room with brown flock wallpaper, to a circular dial phone brrringing on the night stand, the last 33 years just a vivid dream in my 1972 mind.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Two shirtless lads and a girl, having a barbecue.
Lad to girl: “You’ve had enough sausage this morning.”
Girl: “I didn’t do anyfing wiv Dean!”
Lad: “Sorry, that’s last night, when you were both laying in bed with your friend asleep next to you, getting your pissflaps smashed in.”
* A roguish, jovial old man, seemingly played by Ed Begley Jr. in a hobo’s wig, offers free Cornettos to passing strangers.
“I could only get a box of eight,” he says. “I’m making myself sick trying to finish them.” In this nation raised on brutal, trance-like public information films warning the dangers of accepting sweets from strangers, he can barely get a willing exchange of eye-contact, let alone of a free ice cream. With no takers, the man forces another one down his neck; it’s the worst kind of ice cream — ice cream that’s a chore. There’s no joy in his face, with a mess of melted vanilla smeared around his lips like the smile on those clowns with painted on teardrops. Eventually, he leaves an ice cream on the prom, balanced on the box. People glare, suspiciously eyeing it like a piano will fall on their heads should they reach down, or as if some perverted beach-nonce has rubbed his leaky throbber all over it before putting it back in the wrapper.
“It’s a good one!” he says, to passers by, adding to himself, “They’re all looking around for Candid Camera.”
I’m fascinated by how the scene will play out, this modern morality tale, the battle between consumerist, the-world-owes-me greed, and suspicion of our neighbours that taints every noble deed. The Cornetto box lays still on the path like an open man-trap with a stack of £50 notes as the bait. I turn away for a moment, to – I won’t lie – shamelessly ogle the frankly ridiculous body on a passing woman. When I look back, the ice cream and the box are gone.
So is the man.
Show over, I get up to leave. Twenty yards away, the queue for ice cream stretches restlessly along the prom, forty people deep.
The complete collection (plus appendices) of 2011’s Beach Diaries are available to buy for the Amazon Kindle for £1.99/$2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon have a free Kindle app for PC/Mac/phones/tablets, available right here.